When reading about the history of trains, the Katy Railroad left a lasting mark in Texas. If you are familiar with the Houston area you know that a suburb is named Katy. Katy Texas took it's name from this railroad. Another interesting fact is that Houston's Katy Freeway follows the old route of this very busy railway.
The Historic Katy
The Katy Railroad was a train company that connected Missouri to Texas. In fact, the very first railway to enter Texas from the north was the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, often referred to as the MKT. The railroad was also often called the K-T. This was it's stock exchange symbol and was also the way it was called the Katy. The Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad was incorporated in 1870 and bought the southern branch of the Union Pacific Railroad which consisted of 182 miles of track. The MKT also acquired several other small railroads at the same time. The Union Pacific had gained approval for access into Texas in 1865. This was all a part of the massive railway expansion that took place all over the midwest and west after the Civil War ended.
|Fort Worth & Denver steam locomotive|
|Katy Railroad route map|
The Staged Crash of Locomotives
Some people may have read about one of the most strange publicity stunts ever involving a railroad. While lines like to Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe were busy promoting towns such as Santa Fe New Mexico with the hospitality genius, Fred Harvey, the Katy decided it would get a lot of publicity by crashing two large trains together. Indeed it did. Reportedly there were some 40,000 people in attendance to witness this event on September 15, 1896. To jazz things up a bit, one engine was painted in red and the other in a bright green. The trains rode around Texas for about a month before the event to help stir up publicity.
|Katy train collision in Crush Texas|
As a side note, the temporary site was named "Crush Texas" after a man named William George Crush. Crush was the general passenger agent of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and was the one who came up this idea. After the train wreck, William Crush was fired from the Katy and when it appeared that no public fallout would occur he was amazingly hired back the very next day. In fact, songs were written regarding the train collision which remarkably confirmed the publicity value of this event regardless that four people lost their lives. Music composer, Scott Joplin, wrote a piano piece titled "The Great Crush Collision March".
In line with a large number of railroad mergers in the 1980's, the Katy Railroad was acquired by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1988. Then on December 1, 1989 the Katy was merged into the MoPac, and the MKT is now part of the Union Pacific Railroad system.
Another Western Trips article with photos you'll find interesting is the story of the Doodlebug Locomotive in Belen New Mexico.
See our photo article on our Trips Into History site, Texas Railroads / The Frisco Texas Special.
Learn More About the Texas Railroads
There are several places where you can see and learn more about this historic Texas Railroad. One is the Wichita Falls Railroad Museum in Wichita Falls Texas. Included in their exhibits is a MKT diesel electric switch engine. Also, two Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad cabooses. There is also an excellent railroad musedum in a Dallas Texas suburb. The Museum of the American Railroad collects artifacts and archival material from the railroad industry to exhibit and interpret their significance in American life. When you're in the Houston or Galveston area you may want to make a stop at the Galveston Railroad Museum. This museum has one of the largest restored railroad collections in the southwest, and is known to be one of the five largest in the country. These museums will offer the visitor a very good time line of Texas railroad history.
(Photos of Katy logo and FW& D steam engine are from author's private collection. Route map and photo of Crush Texas train crash are in the public domain)